Joe Abernathy, St. Louis CardinalsVP, Stadium Operations
As Vice President – Facilities Planning for the St. Louis Cardinals, Joe is responsible for the project management of capital improvement projects at Busch Stadium, which have totaled over $50 million since it opened in 2006. He was a member of the original design team and was responsible for the commissioning and start-up of the new Busch Stadium III. He has also assisted in the engineering and construction management of the Cardinals’ Jupiter, Florida Spring Training Facility which opened in 1998.
Joe previously served as VP – Stadium Operations through 2017, where he was in charge of Stadium Operations for the Cardinals for 22 seasons, with the last 12 being at Busch Stadium III. He was responsible for all day-to-day facility operations and game-day event management activities, including ushering, guest services, security, medical services, maintenance, clean up, grounds-keeping, and parking.
Steve Ashkin, Green Cleaning NetworkExecutive Director
Joe currently also serves as the Vice-President of the Board of Directors of the Stadium Managers Association; a trade association that educates and provides industry resources to Stadium Managers.
Stephen Ashkin is Executive Director of the Green Cleaning Network, a nonprofit educational organization working to accelerate the adoption of Green Cleaning among building owners and providers. He is often thought of as ‘The Father of Green Cleaning’ having worked on the issue for over 20 years formulating greener cleaning products, developing standards and legislation, and implementing Green Cleaning programs that reduce impacts on worker and occupant/fan health, environment and the bottom-line. Among his accomplishments is being a founding member of the US Green Building Council where he drafted the cleaning credits for their LEED for Existing Buildings Rating System.
Elaine Aye, RWDIAssociate/Regional Manager
Elaine is a sustainability consultant and strategist focused on building performance, wellness, equity and resiliency. With over 30 years’ professional experience, including nearly 20 years in the green building industry, Elaine’s approach to facilitating project teams results in long-term client success – whether that means achieving certification, educating staff, or enhancing building performance through various design or operational strategies. She has taught diverse people across many disciplines about LEED, WELL, SITES, GRI, and the integrative process. Elaine earned her BA in Interior Design from California State University, Sacramento; and has received multiple Executive Education certificates through the University of Washington and Harvard University.
Doug Behar, New York YankeesSenior Vice President, Stadium Operations
Doug is vice president of stadium operations. In his position, Doug directs the operation and overall management of Yankee Stadium, including its maintenance, security, customer service, engineering, carpentry, medical, groundskeeping and sustainability. He leads a team of nearly 70 full-time employees and more than 1,000 game-day staff.
In addition to the regular baseball season, Doug has overseen many major events at the original stadium, including five World Series, the post-9/11 service, “A Prayer for America” and the visit by Pope Benedict XVI. He was a point person for the Yankees for the 2008 All-Star Game and supervised the emotional closing of The House That Ruth Built.
Doug was also a critical part of the team responsible for the strategy, design and construction of the current Yankee Stadium. He helped develop and implement key strategic elements that impacted fan flow, safety, sustainability and functionality and helped put in place programs that made a significant reduction in the stadium’s energy consumption. He also oversaw the transition from the old stadium to the new.In the current stadium, his team manages all major public year-round events, including the conversion of the stadium and field for the first-ever boxing match, football games, concerts and soccer games.
Darryl Benge, Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay Lightning & Tampa Bay StormEVP and Arena General Manager
In his role as Arena General Manager, Darryl oversees building operations, guest experiences, food and beverage operations and capital asset planning and management. Prior to joining the Lightning organization, Darryl was the Assistant General Manager for First & Goal, Inc. Here he managed the maintenance and engineering, capital projects, fields, conversions and technical operations for Century Link Field and Event Center and the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
Prior to that he was the Director of Capital Planning and Projects where he was instrumental in the start-up, commissioning, and relocation of the Seahawks to their new home in Renton. Darryl joined First & Goal after working for the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum (EMP|SFM) as the Director of Facilities and Operations.
Darryl worked 16 years for the base operating service contractors at Naval Submarine Base Bangor. Darryl has a B.A in Business Management from the University of Washington and also earned a Certified Facilities Manager designation from IFMA in 2008.
Brandon Igdalsky, NASCARManaging Director Event Marketing & Promotion
Brandon Igdalsky, grandson of Pocono Raceway founders Dr. Joseph and Dr. Rose Mattioli, was named President of Pocono Raceway in July of 2007. In August 2011, Dr. Mattioli retired from the CEO position and named his eldest grandson President & CEO of Pocono Raceway. In August 2017, Igdalsky was named Managing Director, Event Marketing & Promotion at NASCAR and is based in Daytona Beach, FL. In the new role, Igdalsky oversees the at-track experience throughout NASCAR’s 3 national touring series’; the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Dune Ives, Lonely Whale FoundationExecutive Director
Dune leads the award-winning Lonely Whale, an incubator for courageous ideas that drive impactful, market-based change on behalf of our ocean. Under Dune’s leadership, efforts by Lonely Whale to reduce ocean-bound plastic have earned recognition from the Effy, Shorty, ADDY Awards, Fast Company, and Huffington Post. Dune previously designed and oversaw Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Philanthropy, co-founded The Green Sports Alliance, and was chosen as one of four “Environmental Champions of 2017” by InsideHook. Dune has been featured on CBS, Fast Company, NPR, CNN, The Guardian, and Washington Post.
Scott Jenkins, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, AMB Sports & Entertainment GroupGeneral Manager
Scott Jenkins joined AMB Sports & Entertainment Group in February 2014 to provide insight into the planning and construction of the new Atlanta Stadium leading up to its opening in 2017, after which he will manage the operations of the stadium. Jenkins comes to the Atlanta Falcons from the Seattle Mariners, where he spent the past seven-and-a-half years as vice president of ballpark operations and was responsible for overseeing all aspects of operating and managing Safeco Field.
Prior to joining the Mariners, Jenkins spent three years with the Philadelphia Eagles where he opened and managed Lincoln Financial Field. Scott has served as V.P. of Stadium Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers and Director of Facilities and Events for Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin.
John Marler, Ingram MicroDirector of Corporate Social Responsibility
Kunal Merchant, Lotus AdvisoryManaging Director
Kunal Merchant is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Lotus Advisory, a strategic consulting firm supporting a select portfolio of clients in business, government, and social enterprise. Within Lotus’ sports practice, Kunal advises several NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, and NHL initiatives on strategy, public policy, and communications. Prior to Lotus, Kunal was a Vice President with the Sacramento Kings and Mayor’s Chief of Staff for the City of Sacramento, where he played a central role in the development of the acclaimed Golden 1 Center, the world’s first LEED Platinum-certified indoor sports venue. Kunal previously worked in health care and education, and earned his B.A. and M.B.A. from Harvard University.
Bob Nutting, Pittsburgh PiratesChairman of the Board
Robert (Bob) Nutting serves as Chairman of the Board of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bob assumed control of the club in 2007, thus becoming the sixth principal owner in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He has served as Chairman of the Board and represented his family’s interest in the club since 2003. Throughout his ownership, Nutting has continued the consistent focus of improving the Pirates entire operation. He has led the effort to completely overhaul the team’s facilities, leadership team and organizational approach. As a result, the Pirates organization is stronger than it has been in 20 years. The Pirates have been the most aggressive team in Major League Baseball in investing and acquiring talent through the Amateur Draft under Nutting’s leadership. In addition, the Pirates have also significantly increased their focus on infusing their system with top international talent. As a result, the Pirates Minor League system is now ranked in the top five to eight in all of baseball.
Nutting’s family roots in the greater Pittsburgh region date back as long as the Pirates 126-year history. His dedication to giving back to the community in every aspect of his life has brought a newfound philanthropic commitment to the organization. Nutting has led Pirates Charities, the Club’s official philanthropic arm, in making an even deeper positive impact in the community by being actively engaged in a number of community projects. This engagement has been critical in the construction of five Miracle League fields, the building of the Pirates Community Baseball Center and the continued widespread impact of the Fields for Kids program that assists in improvements to youth baseball and softball fields throughout the region.
Robin Raj, Citizen GroupFounder/Executive Creative Director
As an award-winning creative director and copywriter, Robin has contributed to some of the world’s best-known brands for more than three decades. Today, Robin leads Citizen Group, building ‘citizen brands’ and developing purpose-driven campaigns and pro-social initiatives for clients such as Amnesty International, Arm Technologies, AT&T, Cisco WebEx, City of San Francisco, City of Phoenix, Driscoll’s Berries,McKesson/Health Mart, Major League Baseball, Pabst Brewing, NRDC, USA Network/NBC Universal, United Nations, University of California, Wal-Mart (sustainability initiative), and WWF Climate Savers.
Over the past decade, Robin has been a leader in using the power of media to advance sustainability goals for companies, organizations, and their stakeholders. In addition to working as brand advisor and creative director for the Sustainable Brands conference since 2006, Robin’s work has helped give rise to the Green Sports movement through his defining work with NRDC, the Green Sports Alliance, Major League Baseball, NHL, NBA, and the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2016, he led the development of the ‘Play Your Part’ campaign on behalf of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.
Robin past credits include the “Imagine” and “Instant Karma” campaigns for Amnesty International, based on the songs of John Lennon, which ran in more than 65 countries, and his work at Chiat/Day in the 1980s, where he created the NYNEX Yellow Pages “Human Cartoons” campaign, voted one of Adweek’s 25 Greatest Ad Campaigns. Robin previously co-founded Collaborate, where he led the development of integrated campaigns for Gore-Tex, Logitech, Rock the Vote, Sierra Club, and Seagate, and before that, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, General Motors, Guinness Brewing Company, Mastercard, PBS, and Virgin Records. He began his career at Hal Riney & Partners and Foote Cone Belding/SF, creating campaigns for AT&T, Blitz-Weinhard Brewery, Levi’s, Coors, Gallo, and VISA. In 1990, Robin was named to AdWeek’s Creative All-Stars list. He currently serves as a member of the University of California Climate Change Working Group.
Jennifer Regan, We Bring It OnPrincipal and Chief Sustainability Officer
Prior to joining We Bring It On in 2013 as Principal and Chief Sustainability Officer, Regan founded and led AEG’s sustainability initiative, AEG 1EARTH, for 6 years. In her role as the Global Sustainability Director for AEG she advised company executives on environmental strategy and assisted division leaders with integrating sustainable practices into their operations to achieve the company’s AEG 1EARTH 2020 Environmental Goals which focus on energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, education and sustainable purchasing for all AEG operating entities including Facilities, Sports, Events, Live Entertainment, Touring, Festivals and Merchandising Divisions.
Jill Savery, 11th Hour RacingSustainability Director
Jill Savery is a 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist, 8-time World Champion, and an International Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee in the sport of synchronized swimming. Jill is a sustainability advisor, consultant, author, public speaker, and graduate school instructor on corporate social responsibility. Her experience includes work with 11th Hour Racing, 34th America’s Cup, Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (Olympic Games), Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, and bid teams for the England 2018 FIFA World Cup and the Chicago 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Jill earned her Master’s in Environmental Management from Yale University, and Bachelor’s from UC Berkeley.
Jason Twill, Urban Apostles Pty. Ltd.Director
Jason is the co-founder and founding chair of the Green Sports Alliance. With a career spanning over 20 years in urban development, Jason has been at the forefront of built environment transformation. His career experience includes delivery of sustainable mixed-income housing projects throughout New York City, delivery of Vulcan Inc.’s South Lake Union Innovation District in Seattle, Washington and serving as Head of Sustainability and Innovation for Lendlease Property, Australia.
Jason is founder and Director of Urban Apostles, a start-up real estate development and consulting services business specialising in regenerative development and alternative housing models for cities. Its work focuses on the intersection of the sharing economy and art of city making.
In 2016, Jason was appointed as an Innovation Fellow and Senior Lecturer within the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney and leads research into regenerative urbanism, housing affordability, and property economics.
He is also a co-founder the International Living Future Institute and a global advocate for Living Buildings and Communities. In 2018, Jason founded and launched the City Makers’ Guild, an education, advocacy and research group promoting more equitable and inclusive cities.
Jason was designated a LEED Fellow by the United States Green Building Council in 2014, was named a 2015 and 2017 Next City Global Urban Vanguard and is an appointed Champion and advisor to Nightingale Housing in Australia.
Jackie Ventura, Golden State Warriors/Chase CenterDirector, Arena Administration & Project Management
Jackie Ventura is currently the Director, Arena Administration & Project Management for the Golden State Warriors/Chase Center.
Jackie joined The Heat Group at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL in 2001 and in her last role, she monitored and tracked all aspects of the day-to-day operations of the Engineering and Operations departments including utility forecasting/tracking, labor distribution and building work orders as well as projecting and reconciling our multi-million dollar operating budget. In addition, she was the liaison for all vendors and contractors conducting business with the Engineering and Operations departments at the AA Arena.
In 2008 Jackie was approached to evaluate the NBA league-wide suggestions for viable sustainability initiatives for the AA Arena and she determined that the facility would satisfy all of the requirements for LEED Existing Building: Operations and Maintenance certification. Given her history and role in the department, Jackie was able to easily manage and administer the LEED certification completely in-house and within six months from project registration to certification award only employing the assistance of key staff members and vendors as needed. This earned the Arena the distinction of being the first NBA facility to earn LEED certification in April 2009. Since earning the certification, Jackie has also been charged with reviewing and recommending sustainability efforts for the facility as well as formalizing sustainability policies.
Cyrus Wadia, AmazonHead of Sustainable Product
Cyrus Wadia is the new Head of Sustainable Product at Amazon. He was the former Vice President, Sustainable Business & Innovation for Nike, where he led the company’s global sustainability strategy. Prior to joining Nike, Cyrus spent over five years directing clean energy and materials policy within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He also served as the Co-Director of Cleantech to Market – a dual appointment with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and spent more than seven years in Silicon Valley as a tech entrepreneur. Cyrus holds a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and M.S. and S.B. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jamie Zaninovich, Pac-12Deputy Commissioner/Chief Operating Officer
Jamie oversees all aspects of administrative operations for the Pac-12, including television administration, sport management, championships, football bowl relationships, governance, enforcement, compliance and officiating. In addition, he also serves as the sport administrator for Pac-12 men’s basketball. Jamie joined the Pac-12 in 2014 after six years as commissioner of the West Coast Conference where he led the conference through a period of unprecedented growth and transformation. He has also served as a sports administrator at both Stanford and Princeton University. A native of Eugene, Oregon, Zaninovich is a graduate of Stanford and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.